Shenzhou 9 – Tiangong 1 Docking

June 18, 2012 | 9:49 am
Gregory Kulacki
East Asia Project Manager

This is a video of the 12 June 2012 docking of the Shenzhou 9 and Tiangong 1 spacecraft captured from a live Chinese television broadcast. This is China’s first docking of two spacecraft with a crew of astronauts on board.

The crew is wearing pressurized suits as a safety measure in the event of problems with the docking, which was conducted using the automated docking system first tested without astronauts on board during the previous mission in November 2011. A piloted docking will be conducted later in this mission.

The video covers the process from a period when the two spacecraft were 30 meters apart to a few seconds after the initial docking. It would take several additional minutes for the two spacecraft to completely seal the connection and complete the maneuver. Several hours later, after pressure between the two spacecraft was equalized, the astronauts opened the doors to both spacecraft and moved from the Shenzhou 9 into the Tiangong 1 experimental space lab. The plan calls for them to spend the next six days conducting a variety of experiments to assess both the functions of the two spacecraft and the crew’s physical response to their new environment.